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Aunty Lee's Chilled Revenge: A Singaporean Mystery

Aunty Lee's Chilled Revenge: A Singaporean Mystery

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Aunty Lee's Chilled Revenge: A Singaporean Mystery

3.5/5 (11 peringkat)
322 pages
6 hours
Apr 5, 2016


Rosie “Aunty” Lee—feisty widow, amateur sleuth and proprietor of Singapore’s best-loved home cooking restaurant—is back in another delectable, witty mystery set in Singapore.

Slightly hobbled by a twisted ankle, crime-solving restaurateur Aunty Lee begrudgingly agrees to take a rest from running her famous café, Aunty Lee’s Delights, and turns over operations to her friend and new business partner Cherril.

The café serves as a meeting place for an animal rescue society that Cherril once supported. They were forced to dissolve three years earlier after a British expat killed the puppy she’d adopted, sparking a firestorm of scandal. The expat, Allison Fitzgerald, left Singapore in disgrace, but has returned with an ax to grind (and a lawsuit). At the café one afternoon, Cherril receives word that Allison has been found dead in her hotel—and foul play is suspected. When a veterinarian, who was also involved in the scandal, is found dead, suspicion soon falls on the animal activists. What started with an internet witch hunt has ended in murder—and in a tightly knit, law-and-order society like Singapore, everyone is on edge.

Before anyone else gets hurt—and to save her business—Aunty Lee must get to the bottom of what really happened three years earlier, and figure out who is to be trusted in this tangled web of scandal and lies.

Apr 5, 2016

Tentang penulis

Ovidia Yu is one of Singapore's best-known and most acclaimed writers. She has had more than thirty plays produced and is also the author of a number of mysteries. She received a Fulbright Fellowship to the University of Iowa's International Writers Program and has been a writing fellow at the National University of Singapore.

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Aunty Lee's Chilled Revenge - Ovidia Yu



They had opened the clinic doors at nine as usual. Dr. Samantha Kang had just escorted an obese corgi with breathing difficulties and its worried owner into the examining room when she heard the crash and Lisette, the receptionist, shrieking.

The corridor was full of black smoke and the smell of kerosene when she opened the door and saw a fireball blazing in the reception area. Lisette stumbled into her, coughing and tearing. I don’t know what happened!

Get them out the back. Dr. Kang pushed Lisette and the corgi and its owner through the animal holding area to the goods entrance. They had three dogs, two cats, and a rabbit in the back room. Gino, the veterinary assistant, was already putting the second cat into a carrier, and Samantha started leashing the dogs. There was no point rescuing terrified dogs from a fire only to be run over.

Somehow they got all the animals out. Coughing and dizzy from smoke, the vet stumbled around to the front of the clinic and sat on the grassy patch that separated it from the main road. Normally she avoided even walking here, given that it was where many of her canine patients relieved themselves. She held a shivering Chihuahua on her lap, and a brown Singapore Special mutt laid a grateful, moist snout on her leg. A curious crowd had gathered but the fire was already out. Within ten minutes of the alarm, two Singapore Civil Defense Force fire bike riders with compressed foam backpacks had arrived and extinguished the blaze. Now two red rhinos and a full-sized generic fire engine arrived from the SCDF to find only sodden, black-streaked walls and smoky dampness.

Dr. Samantha Kang? I am Emergency Response Officer Sarah Hisham. How are you feeling?

Yes, I’m Samantha Kang, Samantha said to the uniformed woman squatting in front of her. I’m sorry. The Chihuahua gave a halfhearted yap but subsided when she put a comforting hand on its head.


Samantha indicated the main road, where a traffic officer was directing cars around the stationary fire engine. The rhinos had driven off the road to park on the grass slope, their flashing lights giving the place a festive air.

We got you all over here for nothing. It was just a small fire. I don’t know how it happened.

Calling us was the right thing to do, Sarah Hisham said. The best fire is no fire. Second best is small fire. It sounded like a standard joke, but Samantha could not smile.

There should be some way of saying it’s a small fire, just send one or two firemen. Don’t waste resources. You shouldn’t be wasting resources.

Better safe than sorry. Now come with me so we can take a look and make sure you are all right. The emergency officer gestured to what looked like a white school bus with a red stripe, almost hidden by the fire engine. That’s the ‘transformer’ vehicle. It functions as a mobile hospital.

I’m all right. I’ll just sit here awhile.

Can you walk?

Of course. But she couldn’t seem to make herself stand up.

The uniformed woman gently lifted the dog off Samantha’s lap, holding it competently in the crook of one arm as she held the other out to Samantha.

Come. Let’s get you to the trauma station and test you for smoke inhalation . . .

But Samantha suddenly scrambled to her feet, squinting through smoke-stung eyes at someone among the curious bystanders who should not have been there.


Aunty Lee’s Delights

We should get a ladder for the kitchen, Aunty Lee said.

All the tables in Aunty Lee’s Delights, the famous little Peranakan café just inside Binjai Park, were already full for the weekend’s nasi lemak brunch to high tea buffet. It had the air of an extended family reunion as people offered to share table space with strangers who, though discerning enough to appreciate the best homemade Peranakan food in Singapore, had been impulsive enough to turn up on a weekend without reservations.

But Aunty Lee, who would normally be darting about supervising, seating, and recommending the fried prawns or spicy mutton with cheerful garrulousness, was sitting grumpily at a table by the entrance, barely smiling at the compliments or sympathy people stopped to give her.

Rosie Aunty Lee was seldom grumpy and even more seldom found sitting still. But she had twisted an ankle falling off a stool balanced on an upside-down pail placed on a coffee table, and Nina Balignasay, her Filipina domestic helper and loyal friend, was angry with her. Nina came hurrying now as Aunty Lee started to stand up.

What do you want to get from the kitchen, madame? I will get it for you.

Aunty Lee knew Nina was angry because she was calling her madame and making her obey doctor’s orders to rest her foot.

I want to get a ladder. So next time I can get things for myself without everybody making such a fuss.

Next time you tell me what you want and I get for you. You don’t climb around like a monkey like that! Nina put a little basket of prawn crackers on Aunty Lee’s table. Madame, she added before walking away. The light fragrant crackers were crispy and savory, but did not make Aunty Lee feel better. Neither did the fact that her partner, Cherril, seemed to be managing fine with Nina and two extra helpers in the kitchen. It was as though they didn’t need Aunty Lee at all. That hurt even more than her ankle.

At first glance Aunty Lee was a typical Singapore Peranakan tai-tai. She was fair skinned and plump cheeked enough to please the most demanding in-laws, and short enough not to embarrass the most average-sized man, and the traditional kerongsang (brooch) she wore sported intan, or rose-cut diamonds, set in handcrafted twenty-karat gold, enough to impress the most snobbish customers. And as her late husband had always said, she was kaypoh, kiasu, and em zai si. Kaypoh or busybody enough to stick her nose shamelessly into everyone’s business, kiasu or tenacious enough to follow through, and em zai si or not scared to die as she charged recklessly in search of answers—something which had led to her solving several murders.

Of course Aunty Lee had been famous throughout Singapore even before that—smiling from her jars of Aunty Lee’s Shiok Sambal and Aunty Lee’s Amazing Achar.

But a closer look revealed a pink Converse T-shirt beneath her intricately embroidered kebaya blouse. And instead of a traditional batik sarong and seed pearl slippers, Aunty Lee was wearing Kaffir-lime-green yoga pants and one pink-and-green Nike Hyperdunk basketball shoe—men’s width, because her feet were small and wide like the rest of her—and one ankle immobilizer, which she was impatiently tapping against her walking stick.

As far as Aunty Lee was concerned, the worst side effect of her twisted ankle was that her stepson’s wife, Silly-Nah (as Aunty Lee called the unfortunate Selina), had been coming in daily since Aunty Lee’s fall, saying it was her duty to keep an eye on the family business. (It was not a family business, Aunty Lee thought sulkily, it was her business.) Nina’s disapproval should have been penance enough for climbing up on any number of shaky coffee tables without having to listen day in and day out to Silly’s orders and instructions. Selina seemed to think sampling dishes and criticizing Too hot! or More salt! was the way to run a café kitchen. Aunty Lee observed Selina had already taken on extra weight with her extra role.

This reminded her to hobble round to check the buffet. Aunty Lee liked buffets. The curious, content crowd of people roused memories of family feasts and celebrations, and the sheer abundance of food woke a purely animal joy that no written menu could equal. Three batu lesong or stone mortars containing homemade sambals—spicy sauces—held pride of place. As they ran down, Nina or one of her helpers added peanuts, chopped onions, chili peppers, and lemongrass to toasted belachan and pounded a fresh portion. As any Peranakan cook knew, it was the quality of your sambals that determined the quality of your kitchen. Aunty Lee was very proud of her sambals. Having no one to pass them on to was one of the few things that made her regret having no daughters of her own.

The rest of the buffet was equally impressive. The huge pot of coconut rice released a steamy fragrance of coconut and pandan—screw pine leaves grown in Aunty Lee’s own garden—every time it was opened. And then there was the parade of fried fish, fried chicken, otak-otak, omelets, cucumber slices, peanuts, sambal sotong, and, of course, the achar Aunty Lee was so famous for. Desserts were on a separate, chilled counter next to the drinks station Cherril had set up. But where was Cherril? Cherril Lim-Peters (Aunty Lee’s new business partner who was responsible for the drinks) had taken a half-day off and booked a table for herself and three other people, saying, I have to meet them today. But this way I’ll be around if anything comes up.

Aunty Lee looked through the crowd of eaters to the corner table where Cherril looked as out of sorts as Aunty Lee felt. For some reason this immediately made Aunty Lee feel better and she perked up and paid more attention. One of Cherril’s friends had just arrived . . .

Josephine DelaVega asked for a glass of water and pulled out a cigarette as she joined Cherril at the small corner table.

You can’t smoke in here, Cherril said automatically.

I’m not smoking it. I’m just holding it.

Josephine was wearing a silky olive-green blouse over white tailored pants, her long hair loosely pulled back with a green-and-purple bandanna. Cherril, though as tall and slim as her friend, knew she faded into the background when beside her. She felt suddenly dowdy in her beige-and-yellow knit dress. Why hadn’t she worn pants today?

Cherril looked tense and tired, Aunty Lee thought. So did her companion. To Aunty Lee’s eye, both women had the semi-starved look of Japanese Occupation survivors and she ate a few more prawn crackers to comfort herself. Aunty Lee wondered whether Cherril’s companion had also been an air stewardess. Cherril’s training with Singapore’s premier airline was as obvious to any Singaporean as any soldier’s military training. It was in her professional posture and grooming, her welcoming but impersonal smile, and her ability to pacify cranky children and angry drunks without smudging her mascara. No, Aunty Lee decided, seeing clearly from the way she talked how upset the strange woman was. Aunty Lee wished she was close enough to hear what she was saying.

We should have killed the bloody woman like she killed that dog!

Aunty Lee, along with most of the café, had no trouble hearing that. As curious heads snapped round to the corner table, Aunty Lee was already hobbling her way across. And as Cherril smiled gamely at staring customers, Aunty Lee pulled out the chair beside her and eased down into it.

I hope you don’t mind. With my foot like that I cannot stand very long, must sit down.

Selina, full of righteous indignation, had also started in that direction. But seeing Aunty Lee establishing herself, she stopped and turned away.

Cherril had not seen Josephine DelaVega and Brian Wong for years, not since she stopped volunteering with the Animal ReHomers. She had not taken this threatened lawsuit as seriously as Josephine seemed to. In fact she had looked forward to catching up with Josie and Brian and telling them about her new career at Aunty Lee’s Delights. She regretted that now. Josephine had been late, and Brian had texted twice saying he was almost there but there was still no sign of him. And there was no sign of Allison Fitzgerald—Allison Love, as she now called herself. Perhaps the woman wasn’t going to show up?

Maybe she isn’t coming after all. Maybe she just wanted to scare us, she had suggested.

That was what had made Josephine flare up.

Sorry, Cherril said to Aunty Lee.

Aunty Lee shook her head dismissively, beamed at Cherril’s companion to show it was no problem, and clearly conveyed that she wanted the story behind the woman’s outburst.

"Cherril, does your friend like my food? Have you tried my sambal quail eggs yet?"

We’re fine. Thanks, the Eurasian woman said with automatic, dismissive politeness.

But Cherril knew Aunty Lee would not be shaken off so easily. Still, hadn’t she known that when she booked herself a table in the café? And wasn’t part of her relieved to have her protective kaypoh friend around?

Aunty Lee, you know Josephine DelaVega, don’t you? Josie, this is Rosie Lee—the famous Aunty Lee who’s also my new boss.

Josephine switched modes smoothly, automatically half straightening her knees while leaning forward into a respectful half-bow. Hello, Aunty Lee, you may not remember me. I’m Constance and Joseph DelaVega’s daughter. I used to visit you with my mum ages ago. I was so amazed when Cherril told me she’s working with you here.

To young people two or three years could be ages ago. Not surprising, Aunty Lee thought, given the pace at which things changed in Singapore.

Of course I know Josephine! Aunty Lee bobbed her head enthusiastically though she had not recognized the young woman till Cherril’s introduction. I’ve known Baby Josie since she was so small. That’s what your dad used to call you, right? She’s the famous one, our beautiful Miss Singapore! Josephine, I haven’t seen your mother for so many years! How are Connie and Jojo? The last time I saw your mum she said she had diabetes and your father had gout and maybe dementia. How are they now? You must tell them to come here and see me!

I will, Aunty Lee. Josephine smiled. My parents are doing okay. I must tell them I saw you today. I remember coming to see you at your house with my mum and you gave us curry puffs, hot out of the oven!

Out of the frying pan, Aunty Lee corrected. "Oh, I must give you something to bring back for them! Wah lao, today got Singapore beauty queen come to my shop! I must tell Nina to quick quick make a shelfie out of you!"

Aunty Lee’s last remarks were addressed to the room at large as she hobbled at top speed toward the kitchen, clearing the way in front of her with her stick. People were staring curiously and whispering again. Josephine DelaVega, former Miss Singapore–Business Galaxy (beauty, brains, and business) gamely returned the tentative smiles sent in her direction and pretended not to notice people snapping mobile phone shots without asking permission.

Cherril winced. Whyever had she thought meeting here was a good idea?

She’s telling someone to put me on the shelf? Who is Nina?

Nina’s her helper. I think Aunty Lee just wants a photo of you in the café. She puts them on the shelf behind the counter so she calls them shelfies.

Josephine grimaced. I look like shit.

No. You look great. Cherril’s reply came automatically.

Hi, gorgeous. Brian Wong startled Cherril by kissing her on the cheek from behind. Hi, Josie! My three favorite ladies in my favorite café! Brian waved his fingers at Josephine across the table.

Three? Oh yes. Aunty Lee was back, with a grim-faced Selina at her heels.

Hello, Aunty Lee, do you remember me? It’s Brian, Brian Wong.

Of course I remember you, Aunty Lee said with genuine pleasure as she waved him to a seat. Some cooks hated Brian Wong, the former animal activist who had been instrumental in getting shark fin and bear gall bladder banned in Singapore, but Aunty Lee (who was open-minded enough to have vegetarian friends) liked the young man.

Selina, go and get water for them—wait, wait—take photo for us first then go and get the water.

Brian circled the table to put an arm around Aunty Lee for the photos and then gave her a quick hug before sitting down.

How nice to see you again, Brian. It’s been so long. You’re looking good. Have you got a girlfriend yet?

Not too good I hope! Brian neatly deflected her question. Can you believe I just saw a man in the gents putting on lipstick?

In my toilet here?

No, in a hotel—anyway, how are you all?

Brian Wong had been a journalist with the Straits Times when volunteering with the Animal ReHomers. Since then, Brian had been more in the news than behind it after developing the iGrow Organic app, which delivered personalized exercise, meal, and snack plans with hydration records and iPhone reminders and connected the user with any Organic Eats chill-vending machines in the vicinity. Time magazine had credited him with revolutionizing worldwide workplace health, and Singapore had given him an Innovation Excellence Award, but he still had the boyish, open smile Aunty Lee remembered.

"So are you all having my nasi lemak buffet? Brian?" Aunty Lee gestured toward the buffet spread. Even though other hands had prepared today’s dishes, she had guided the process as both composer and conductor and she was very proud of it.

It looks fantastic, Brian said with automatic, almost convincing politeness as his eyes scanned the people in the crowded room but missed the food. Allison’s not here yet? I was afraid I might be late.

You are late. Very late, Josephine snapped, though she had arrived barely ten minutes earlier. She fumbled with her bag and pressed two Panadol capsules out of their foil casing, swallowing them with the last of her ice water. God, I’ve got such a headache. Can I have more water?

Josephine only just arrived. Cherril was sitting here by herself for at least an hour! Selina reached rudely across Josephine with a jug and filled Brian’s glass first. Are you here for the buffet too?

Only half an hour. Maybe forty-five minutes! Cherril murmured.

Forgetting her ankle for a moment, Aunty Lee jumped up on seeing all the ice in Selina’s water jug had melted, but sat down immediately, wincing.

Brian was the only one who noticed. What’s wrong? Aunty Lee, are you all right?

She has a sprained ankle, Selina said. She fell. She’s lucky she didn’t break it—or something else! Old people are always falling down and breaking bones. Maybe now you’ll take things easy!

Aunty Lee refused to be distracted from the nugget of information that she had caught. This Allison you are all waiting for is the bloody woman you wish you had killed like a dog? she inquired with the air of a helpful child.

Cherril gasped and giggled. Josephine invoked fecal matter. Brian looked taken aback then laughed. I’m with you there—he pulled out his phone—but I’m sure we’ll be able to work things out without killing anybody. I’m just going to take this outside—better signal.

Brian Wong is such a nice boy, Aunty Lee said as soon as the door closed behind Brian. She looked meaningfully at Josephine. Why is he here today? Are you two . . . She tapped her forefingers together before entwining them.

Josephine had closed her eyes and looked as though she was praying for her painkillers to work.

Why are all of you here today? Are you having a business meeting?

Aunty Lee, you’re so . . . Cherril started, and stopped. Being called kaypoh was generally an insult but one Aunty Lee embraced cheerfully. After all, knowing everybody’s business was necessary if she wanted to feed everybody good food, and surely there was nothing wrong with that. It surprised Aunty Lee that more people did not feel that way.

Josephine’s eyes remained closed as she said, Allison Fitzgerald is filing a lawsuit against the three of us for breaking up her marriage. She found an American lawyer who got his last client nine million U.S. dollars on a similar lawsuit. She’s coming to meet us here.


Puppy Killer

Alienation of affection? This Allison woman got divorced and wants to sue you all? Aunty Lee’s eyes darted between Cherril and Josephine before settling on Josephine. She thinks you stole her husband? What did you do with him?

Aunty Lee! It’s nothing like that! Cherril did not give her friend a chance to answer. This woman and her husband adopted a dog—a puppy—from us when we were running the Animal ReHomers. Now she claims that dealing with the Animal ReHomers stressed her into a nervous breakdown and led to the breakup of her marriage. Since the ReHomers organization doesn’t exist anymore, she’s suing the three of us because we’re the ones she dealt with.

Aunty Lee looked puzzled. She didn’t like the dog?

She agreed to return it to us if she couldn’t keep it. But instead she had it put down and then lied that she had given it to a friend.

I remember her now! The puppy killer! Aunty Lee thumped her stick against Josephine’s chair in delight at remembering the case. The puppy killer! It was in the newspapers!

It had also been all over social media and even international newspapers. After all, nothing unites Singaporeans like getting really angry at something or someone, especially when they can feel self-righteously patriotic about it.

But I didn’t know you all were involved. Tell me all about it!

Josephine smiled and excused herself to make a call as Cherril began.

Five years ago, Allison and Mike Fitzgerald adopted a small mixed-breed puppy from the Animal ReHomers, a volunteer society dedicated to improving the lives of Singapore’s abandoned and unwanted dogs. In Singapore only one dog of an approved (small) breed is permitted per Housing and Development Board (HDB) flat under threat of a S$4,000 fine. Given the tendency of new puppies to appear and dogs to grow, and the fact that 80 percent of Singapore’s population lives in HDB flats, finding new homes for dogs is a constant process. The adoption agreement signed by the Fitzgeralds for the puppy, Lola, stipulated it would be returned to the Animal ReHomers should the adoption not work out.

Allison Fitzgerald would later say to reporters, I thought that was just to make sure they would take the dog back. I don’t know what I signed. Who reads all those damned papers they make you sign?

Allison called the ReHomers two months later.

"I was the on-duty that day and I took her call. She said she wanted to return the puppy she’d taken. I looked up the records and said sure, but asked if she would be willing to keep Lola a few more days or help with boarding costs till we found another home for her. It’s the standard response we were supposed to give. They were always short of money and space at the shelter. And quite often people changed their minds. I mean, you get fuming mad when a puppy pees on your Persian carpet or chews the heels off your Louboutins, but given time to cool down you realize it never meant to, right? I mean, would you give away a child who scratched your car or something? Anyway, Allison said she would get back to us.

That was just after Josie was crowned Miss Singapore–Business Galaxy. The Animal ReHomers was one of the charities she had to support as titleholder. She wasn’t on the volunteer schedule, but she would come and be photographed with the dogs that were up for adoption and say how cute they were and how much she wished she could bring them all home. She was very good about it. I was impressed.


Cherril laughed. "Because she actually didn’t like touching the dogs, didn’t like getting fur on her clothes and doggy smells on her hands. But for the pictures she would cuddle and kiss them and let them lick her face—she was very professional. She was my role model, you know.

"Anyway, Josie was in the office two days later when I called Allison back to arrange to collect the puppy, Lola. Allison said not to bother because a friend had taken it. That was good news but I was surprised. I asked for the friend’s address because we always kept records on the dogs we found homes for, but Allison hung up on me. I asked Brian Wong what to do. Brian wasn’t just a volunteer; he was one of the founders of the ReHomers. And I think he had a bit of a crush on Josie, so he asked if she wanted to come with us to the Fitzgeralds’ Clementi Crescent house to get details of the people who had taken Lola. So Josie and her photographer came—she usually brought a photographer when she came to help.

"Allison refused

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  • (4/5)
    Just as good as the first two in the series!Yu's characters remain vividly drawn, even fairly minor ones- to the point where I hope to see them in future episodes. The plot was very complex and intricate.The sense of place, though, is probably the strongest component. Yu brings Singapore alive in my imagination, even though I've never been there or anyplace similar. While the descriptions of foods are enticing and make me see why Singapore is reputedly one of the world's top food destinations, her descriptions of the city itself, and life therein, are also wonderful.My only quibble: there are a LOT of people to keep track of, and a list of who they are and how they're related at the beginning or end would be handy!Very recommended! You could probably start here, but keeping everyone straight would be harder than if you start with #1.
  • (3/5)
    I was given this book for an honest review. I struggled some with the stilted conversations, but found the intrigue of the mystery fun and enjoyable. I was a little disconcerted by the differentiation of the two sisters by the skinny pretty sister and the fat sister. In today's world of labels and discriminations, I would think that an author could find better ways of defining the characters. I didn't allow that flaw to detract from the story, but probably would have rated it higher had the author used better choices for wording.
  • (1/5)
    I did not enjoy this book. While the author is a successful playwright in Sigapore, I did not think this novel was very well written. Given her background as a playwright, her dialog was well written, but her narrative was very amateur. As you read and characters are introduced, every one seems like a boiler-plate stereotype. I enjoy many "English Cosy" type mysteries, which this is very much like, but the characters were not very engaging. Writing plays or teleplays is a very different skill than writing a novel. The number of great novels that have been adapted into bad movies are testament to this. I didn't notice that the story was set in Singapore. I probably would not have requested the book if I had seen this. While Singapore, the world's only independent island city state, has a very rich and interesting history and culture, it's not a setting for fiction that interests me.
  • (4/5)
    I found the writing style in the prologue a bit coy and amateurish. I was still feeling that way in the first chapter when suddenly I was seduced by the setting, the character's,and the charming Aunty Lee. Ovidia Yu has my full endorsement. So much so, that I'm going on Amazon to buy the earlier books in the series. The plots twists and turns were swift. Aunty Lee's insight into people as well as her love of cooking, family and Singapore makes for a wonderful few hours spent in her company. I look forward to Ms. Yu's next novel in the series. I received a free copy of this book for an honest review.
  • (4/5)
    This is an amateur detective murder mystery story set in present day Singapore. A British woman who was shamed into leaving Singapore because she euthanized a puppy returns several years later to confront her tormentors. She is found dead in her hotel room after she misses a scheduled meeting with them. Aunty Lee takes on the role of detective in the search for the killer.It's well plotted with several characters who may have motives to kill the woman, including her sister who seems to be suffering a "nervous breakdown". Relationships among some characters evolved in previous books and they may be difficult to figure out if you have not read these books. The book is reminiscent of the Alexander McCall Smith style --- more like the #1 Ladies' Detective Agency ones than the Isabel Dalhousie ones. This story is told at a brisker pace than McCall Smith, but does come with recipes for those so inclined. This is a good read and the Aunty Lee series is one to follow.
  • (4/5)
    I got this book from the early reviewers on librarything. I was glad to find out this was from an author from Singapore. I love to discover new authors from other countries.Aunty Lee restaurant owner, part time detective, part time philosopher. Aunty Lee needs to solve the murder of her house guests sister.I enjoyed this story and have ordered the first two in the series. I hope to hear more from this author. Pick up your copy today and enjoy.
  • (3/5)
    IN the business, [Aunty Lee's Chilled Revenge] would be a "cozy", a mystery where you already know that everything is going to be all right and no harm will come to the protagonist. The third book in the Aunty Lee series, Chilled Revenge takes us on a pleasant tour of Singapore and its unique society, while solving the mystery of a slain English traveler. Like many mystery series, Chilled Revenge shows the effect of the use of continuing characters. As the series proceeds, readers' favorite characters must each have his or her moment, a practice that tends to bog down the story. And the reader is left to wonder exactly how many murders will the amateur detective solve in a lifetime, much less the compressed time frame of a series of books. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the novel and feel that Ms. Yu, the author, played fair with the mystery. I was able to concoct a theory of the crime halfway through the book, but I got the answer only partly right. When the answer was revealed, I could see the breadcrumbs Ms. Yu had strewn about to lead to the correct solution. If you're looking for a non-threatening mystery set in beautiful, status-conscious Singapore, I recommend this book.
  • (5/5)
    A great mystery from a new author at least new to me. I loved the way the story flowed and the characters were weaved into a memorable mystery. I found myself not only interested but also laughing alot as I read deeper. A must have for the true mystery lover.
  • (4/5)
    I received this as part of the Library Thing Early Reviewers' Program. This is the second of the Auntie Lee books that I have read. I think they are delightful. Really quirky and funny. Auntie Lee is a famous restaurant owner in Singapore with many famous dishes accredited to her. She relates everything and everybody to food. She likes getting into everybody's business and when there is a crime she always gets involved.The food descriptions are amazing, even if I did have to Google to see what some of the dishes were.Just a fun book to read!
  • (4/5)
    This is the first of the series I have read. The foreign locale is intriguing, as is Aunty Lee. I enjoy mysteries set in exotic locales, as well as culinary mysteries. This one had interesting characters, and several possible outcomes. Now I want to go back and read the others in the series too. The author tells a good story.
  • (2/5)
    This is the first Aunty Lee book I've read and had been so looking forward to reading a new author. Unfortunately I wasn't missing anything not reading it, now I don't know if it's all of Ovidia Yu's books or just this one but it was so slow and way to detailed as to call some of it overdone.It didn't even begin to get interesting until after page 250! The only reason I continued to read the book is that I don't feel you can truly give a review without reading the entire book.I usually enjoy cozy mysteries, including those with food and recipes in them but this one just focused to much on the food. I also think that it would have been a good idea to include what some of the foods were.All in all it just wasn't at all appealing to me and I would not recommend it to anyone nor would I purchase another of these books.
  • (4/5)
    They say good things come to those who wait and boy it that true with this book. I won Ovidia Yu's book Aunty Lee's Chilled revenge from the February Library Thing Giveaway. I didn't receive it until June.Aunty Lee's Chilled revenge is about a British expat who killed a puppy she adopted that sparked a firestorm of a scandal. The expat, Allison Fitzgerald, left Singapore in disgrace but has returned three years later with an ax to grind( and a lawsuit).Allison is found dead in her hotel room and foul play is suspected. When the veterinarian, who was also involved in the scandal is found dead suspicion falls on the animal activists. What started with an internet witch hunt has ended in murder.This book is the third in the Aunty Lee series and you don't need to read the first two to enjoy this one. This is a great cozy type mystery with the beloved titled character of Aunty Lee, a feisty widow, amateur sleuth and proprietor of Singapore's best loved home-cooking restaurant. I can't wait to read Ovida Yu's other book in this series.
  • (4/5)
    A pleasant low key mystery. A mixture of "who dun-it" with the food and culture of Singapore. Although I determined the identity of the victim rather early on, I still enjoyed the rest of the book. It was a unique combination of topics I like : mystery , food and animals.
  • (3/5)
    I received this as an ER. I became interested in it when I saw that it took place in Singapore and that the writer is from there. I tutored an adult literacy student from Singapore for 6 years and thought I would like the setting. Aunty Lee is the owner of a popular Singapore restaurant and an amateur sleuth. Nursing an injured ankle, she takes a break from her usual breakneck job. When two murders take place, the victims known to each other due to a previous scandal within the animal rescue community, Aunty Lee decides she must investigate them.An average cozy but good for light reading. This is the 3rd book in the Aunty Lee series.
  • (3/5)
    Aunty Lee is sidelined by a strained ankle, but does that keep her from meddling when murder comes to visit? Of course not. In fact, the distraction of a murder keeps her from doing foolish things like trying to use a stepstool on top of boxes and falling, so Nina is content that Aunty Lee should focus on the murder.If you have read the two previous novels, you know that this one is full of Singaporean food references and lots of pondering on what makes people the way they are. Unfortunately, and possibly due to translation issues, the same thoughts seem to be presented again and again. The mystery aspect of the novel was better in this one than the first two, so perhaps the author is becoming more familiar with how to present a mystery. The characters are sometimes over the top, and dialog can be awkward to follow, but I think there is improvement.
  • (4/5)
    Aunty Lee is not an acrobat, so after she falls off a stool balanced on a upside down pail, placed on a coffee table, she is side-lined with a twisted ankle. As she see's her new partner Cherril and her long time domestic helper, Nina, are doing fine without her help at the famous Aunty Lee's Delights, restaurant, she is left in a very grumpy mood. Aunty Lee's late husband, ML, always said she is Kaypoh, Kiasu and Em Zai Si (busybody, tenacious, and not afraid to die). So when angry ex-pat Allison Fitzgerald returns, after leaving Singapore in disgrace over the untimely death of a shelter pup 5 years earlier, with an ax to grind and a lawsuit to file, is found dead in her hotel room and the police are looking at Cherril and her animal activist friends with suspicion, Aunty Lee decides she needs to get to the bottom of what happened. I found Aunty Lee a very enjoyable character. The backstory was filled in nicely. Though it did not take me long to figure out the mystery of Who Dun-it, The story line was interesting enough to keep me reading to the conclusion and not just set the book aside. The interaction of Aunty Lee and Inspector Salim Mawar was interesting, as was Nina's character. Since this is a series, I would think these two will continue to develop and grow in upcoming books. I would look forward to seeing that happen.
  • (3/5)
    Set in Singapore, this cozy centers on the death of a tourist, the sister of the notorious "Puppy Killer", a British ex-pat who'd had a puppy euthanized, and caused a scandal years before. Aunty Lee, and her cast of characters, come into play because the Puppy Killer has returned (with her now murdered-sister) to sue the people who originally brought charges, and made an internet sensation, of the case. And of course, they know Aunty Lee.This was my first foray into Aunty Lee's world. I found the dishes and descriptions of her cafe items interesting, though had to look up each and every one to make sure I had it right, as there was no glossary to help me distinguish Katong Laksa from Cheng tng, (I read an ARC, and a glossary may be included in the final.) There were a lot of folks involved on Aunty's side of things, which took some sorting out, and not that much description of the city beyond food culture. But still, I found it interesting. These internationally set cozies are good for giving snippets of culture usually not represented in mysteries, and a series allows the reader to learn at a leisurely pace.As to the mystery itself, it soon became obvious where the story was leading in terms of one main element. The hints in the backstory just had me rather impatient for the reveal to know I was right. There also were enough annoying characters still left that I was wishing one or two of them might be picked off instead.I f another Aunty Lee falls into my hands, I may give it a go, but may not seek her out otherwise. Thanks to LibraryThing Early Reviewers for sending the book my way. Sorry I didn't like it more.tags: 2016-read, advanced-reader-copy, cozy-type-mystery, early-review-librarything, made-me-look-something-up, ok-but-not-great, read, taught-me-something
  • (4/5)
    A new series set in Singapore about a widow and amateur detective and restaurant owner. Ovidio Yu does a fabulous job weaving phrases of her native tongue into the story. Generous and kind Aunty Lee allows the sister of a murdered woman, Allison, to stay at her home while the police search for the killer. Ovidio Yu interjects delicious food and relationships into her story. The language seems simple, but I felt that Yu does this to give the reader a sense of listening to an Oriental speaking English. Aunty Lee, the main character, appears to be simple minded, especially allowing her guest such freedom. But under her simplicity lurks a cunning mind which discovers the deception. I enjoyed the book, but felt I missed too much by not having read the prior books of this series. When time permits, I hope to read the other books.
  • (4/5)
    Aunty Lee's Chilled Revenge by Ovidia Yu is a wonderful cozy mystery set in Singapore. Aunty Lee runs a small restaurant where she is able to enjoy reinventing recipes while feeding friends and neighbors. This also gives her the opportunity to "untangle" people and their relationships. In this case, it is the murder of an English woman who has returned to stir up trouble after leaving the country 5 years ago. Despite seeming to be a bumbling, nosy old woman, Aunty has a sharp mind, and the local police respect her insight. Her foreign helper, Nina, is equally smart, and they make a great pair. This is a quick easy read that is very enjoyable.
  • (2/5)
    I was half way through this book before it became interesting. I did enjoy the food references and aunty lee's personality but the "murder" was a little too easy to figure out. Aunty Lee's tolerance of Valerie was ridiculous- anyone would have thrown her out long ago.
  • (4/5)
    Rose “Aunty Lee” is the owner of Aunty Lee’s Delights a famous Café in Singapore. She loves cooking, and feeding people and over the years she has become well known for her wholesome delicious food, and also for a talent for solving murders. In Chilled Revenge, murder is on the menu when an ex-pat named Allison Fitzgerald is found dead in her hotel room. Allison had recently returned to Singapore because the last time she was there she was vilified (rightfully so) for putting a rescue puppy to sleep without returning it to the rescuers. The list of suspects is long, and Aunty Lee wants to solve this murder because the people she cares about were entangled in the puppy case.This was my first introduction to Ovidia Yu’s Singaporean Mystery series and I enjoyed the taste. It’s an entertaining story that has more than one mystery to visit while you find out what really happened in that hotel. Good read for mystery lovers and foodies alike. 4 stars.
  • (3/5)
    Aunty Lee is somewhat laid up with a twisted ankle, but that doesn’t stop her from nosing around after the death of a much-hated British expat, known in Singapore as the “puppy killer.” Something is definitely amiss, and another death spurs Aunty Lee to ferret out the truth. Though filled with the flavor of Singapore, this book at times drags and seems to lack focus. The solution to some of the mystery is pretty obvious early in the tale. Still, if you like mysteries set in foreign places, this series may appeal to you.
  • (3/5)
    Sidelined with a sprained ankle, Aunty Lee must rely on others to help her run her famous café, Aunty Lee's Delights. Nina, her servant, and Cherril, her business partner, prove to be more than capable. However, when Cherril becomes distracted by the death of a former acquaintance, Aunty Lee steps in to help solve the murder.It seems that three years prior, Cherril was working for an animal rescue group. She got caught up in a scandal when an expat, Allison Fitzgerald, had the puppy she adopted put down. All of Singapore was in an uproar.Now Allison has returned and is dead. The unpopular and unpleasant woman had several enemies, but which one actually hated her enough to kill her? Aunty Lee must race against time and solve the mystery before others end up dead as well.The Bottom Line: Fans of food-themed cozy mysteries will delight in this light series. This weekend read is a little bit predictable, but includes many enjoyable characters. Also, this is the third installment of the series, but you do not have to read them in order. NOTE: Due to references of animal cruelty, sensitive readers may want to skip this one.
  • (3/5)
    I read several reader reviews calling Aunty Lee novels “cozy” and that describes the story perfectly. Oh, yum, I wish lived close to Aunty Lee’s restaurant to try some of her delicious food. I’d also love to meet all her Singapore friends. This is the first Aunty Lee novel I have read and I had not trouble. Not a lot of background information is needed. If you are an aficionado of mysteries involving food, add this series to your list.
  • (3/5)
    I liked the character of Aunty Lee. She’s like one of those family members you have the utmost respect for, but at the same time, she has the ability to embarrass you beyond belief. She’s quite a bit on the nosy side, and therefore, makes the perfect amateur sleuth. She’s the proprietor for Aunty Lee’s Delights, a café in Singapore. The animal rescue society regularly meets there. While they’re busy discussing the return of Allison Fitzgerald, known by the society as the ‘puppy killer’, they receive word that Allison has been killed. When her sister, Vallerie, arrived to discuss the lawsuit Allison has against the society, she was still unaware of her sister death. Unable and unwilling to go back to the hotel where her sister was murdered, Vallerie allows Aunty Lee to coax her into staying at her home while the crime is being investigated.This is the third Aunty Lee light cozy mystery, but the first one I’ve read. I felt the mystery element stood well on its own. Aunty Lee is a remarkably clever character. I didn’t really feel as if I got to know the other main characters. Readers who have read the first and second book in the series may be more knowledgeable about them. The pacing and flow of the story were effective in keeping the attention of the reader. I enjoyed that some of their words were translated for us within the text. For example, ‘kaypoh’ means ‘busybody’. Rating: 3 out of 5.
  • (5/5)
    Rosie “Aunty” Lee—feisty widow, amateur sleuth and proprietor of Singapore’s best-loved home cooking restaurant—is back in another delectable, witty mystery set in Singapore.This is the third book in the Singaproean Mystery series and the first one that I have read and while I was aware that there were background stories and such that I was missing out on this in no way interfered with my ability to enjoy this book on it's own or in following who was who.As a rule in cozy mysteries the mystery itself is rarely the most important part of the story, the characters and settings are and this is certainly true in this case.Aunty Lee is a riot with a big heart, a quick mind and sees nothing wrong with being openly nosy to the nth degree and interfering in peoples lives, she always means well and at least in this book, she always seems to be right.Of the secondary characters, Nina, her foreign domestic helper and friend was the only one I felt a strong connection to but I still enjoyed most of them and want to learn more about them.I found the authors characterization of Westerners hilarious if a bit overly cartoony and a bit distracting.As for the setting, I can't say that I got a strong sense of Singapore as a county but I do feel that I got at least a taste of it's culture and sense of community on a small local scale and I would love to learn more.As I said above, you don't read cozies for a tight, intense mystery and in this case if the author took the mystery out entirely and just told stories of Aunty Lee and her restaurant I would love that and read the heck out of those books.This book was a BLAST and I am so looking forward to reading the others in this series.
  • (5/5)
    This is my third adventure in Singapore with Aunty Lee, a motherly sleuth who runs her own cafe and reasons through clues with a sort of food inspired philosophy. As was the case with the first two books, I enjoyed the story and characters of this one so much I was sad to have the book end. Since the books are set in Singapore they have an international multicultural cast, including characters who are Chinese, Indian, Malay, Eurasian, Filipino, European and American, which makes the stories a lot more interesting than your run of the mill cozy. There are always plenty of woven-into-the-plot tidbits about life in Singapore, including its laws, culture, family dynamics, and, of course, food, which also makes these mysteries stand out. The books are told from multiple points of view, with transitions handled smoothly. Auntie Lee, a wealthy widow, makes a wonderful main character. She’s highly observant, loves cooking for and being around people, is curious to the point of nosiness, and is determined to be of service, even when her “services” aren’t exactly appreciated. This episode involves animal rights activists and--of course--murder, and though Aunty Lee’s investigations should be hampered because having twisted her ankle she’s limping, Aunty Lee knows how to work with what she has and the injury really doesn’t slow her down much at all.I read a complimentary advanced review copy of this book, supplied to me by the publisher through the website LibraryThing. Review opinions are mine.
  • (3/5)
    In this series, Aunty Lee is a great character – a feisty, older woman who owns and runs a small restaurant in Singapore. This spritely, noisy woman somehow manages to find herself involved in mysterious deaths. This is the third book in the series. I read the first one – and, to be honest, didn’t really like it. I won this book through the LibraryThing Early Review readers program – so felt obligated to read it. I did like it better than the first one. There is a mystery that could have several solutions and a cast of characters that are believable –some you like, some you don’t. My main problem with the first one was that it was all conversation – and very little action. This one also is mainly conversation, but there is a little more action. All in all, it is a pretty good light mystery – a nice, cozy read.